Tribals to go ahead with ‘Sulia Yatra’ in Bolangir

Balangir: Ignoring efforts by the district administration and social activists to persuade them to stay away from animal sacrifice, tribal people in Western Odisha on Monday announced their decision to go ahead with the annual “Sulia Yatra” at Khairaguda in Bolangir district on January 12.

Their decision is premised on the recent Supreme Court verdict asking governments not to interfere with religious practices as per centuries-old traditions of sacrificing animals by different communities.

The tribal group, after a meeting on Monday, announced to observe the festival according to ritual on the first Tuesday of the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha) in the Hindu calendar month of Pousha.

A large number of animals including buffaloes, goats, sheep, chickens, pigeons, ducks and swans are slaughtered at Khairaguda of Deogaon in Bolangir district during the Sulia Yatra, which is observed by the tribal people of Bolangir and adjoining districts. For years, the administration has stood as a helpless, mute spectator while the sacrifice goes on.

“We are trying our best to create awareness about animal sacrifice though the Supreme Court had passed its verdict not to interfere in the religious practices of communities,” said Balangir collector M Muthukumar.

People sacrifice thousands of animals every year in the district as part of their age-old Sulia yatra or the annual killing festival. They believe that all their suffering is because of divine wrath and the sacrifice of animals will ensure that deities protect them from misery and misfortune.

Notably, a bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy in September last year had refused to interfere with religious practices and had said the judiciary could not stop the centuries-old traditions of sacrificing animals by different communities.